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Mason Collins
Mason Collins

Offseason



As is often the case, quarterbacks have driven the conversation of the 2023 NFL offseason. Weeks into free agency, two of the biggest remaining storylines ahead of the draft involve the respective futures of Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. One of those former MVPs has a relatively clear path to his next destination; the other, not so much. But already this offseason we've seen more than a dozen other notable signal-callers swap teams for 2023.




Offseason



Whether you are just realizing that Jacob deGrom left New York for the Texas Rangers, Justin Verlander replaced him on the New York Mets and Carlos Correa is on the ... well, you are going to need to sit down for that one -- or you know all the moves that went down and still aren't quite sure what to make of them, there's plenty to learn before the games begin. ESPN MLB experts Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield break down the moves that rocked the offseason. What did they mean for the teams that made them -- and for the rest of MLB?


Dominoes: When Texas followed the deGrom signing by adding Eovaldi and Heaney to its rotation, the AL playoff hopefuls gained a new contender. Texas' starting pitching spree also made the competition even stiffer for teams trying to upgrade their own rotations during the offseason.


What it means for the Mets: Remember, the Mets entered the offseason needing to replace or re-sign several key free agents. They took care of one the day after the World Series, quickly re-signing Edwin Diaz to a $102 million deal. That still meant three-fifths of their starting rotation were free agents -- deGrom, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker. With deGrom headed to Texas, the Mets moved quickly to replace an injury-prone ace with one who had just won the AL Cy Young Award.


How it rocked baseball: Everyone knew Steve Cohen was going to spend money this offseason -- with so many free agents, the Mets had no choice. But making a 40-year-old pitcher the highest-paid player in the game is always going to draw a few raised eyebrows -- and four-letter exclamations. In the interest of team harmony, Verlander's two-year contract (it also includes a conditional player option for 2025) will pay him $43.333 million per season -- matching teammate Max Scherzer for the highest annual average salary in the sport. While Cohen's pockets are deeper than the Mariana Trench, the deGrom-Verlander maneuvering also showed the Mets weren't going to approach the offseason with complete reckless abandon: When the deGrom price tag got higher than they were comfortable with, they shifted gears to Verlander.


Dominoes: Correa ... and Not Correa. For a moment, the Giants' offseason seemed so glitzy, and then it didn't. It was as strange an offseason a franchise has had in a long time. And it might still turn out to be a decent one if their less-splashy acquisitions (the ones that actually happened) pan out. Meanwhile, the Yankees, with Judge in hand, turned their focus to pitching and landed Carlos Rodon ... from the Giants. Things haven't been this strange between these franchises since they shared the Polo Grounds.


How it rocked baseball: The Padres?!?! How the heck are the Padres doing this?!?! Indeed, Bogaerts' 11-year, $280 million deal -- on top of the mega-contracts the team already had with Tatis and Machado -- was perhaps the most shocking of the offseason. At the beginning of the offseason, estimates for Bogaerts ranged from $168 million (ESPN) to $189 million (MLB Trade Rumors) to $217 million (FanGraphs). As good as he is, Bogaerts hit just 15 home runs in 2022, he's entering his age-30 season and his defensive metrics have usually been below average (although not in 2022).


When they ultimately made Bogaerts their signature offseason signing, no team felt the pressure more than the shortstop's former team -- the Boston Red Sox. Fans in Boston were angry. Another star had left, and the fact that the Padres were willing to spend like this while Boston's ownership was not added to the ire. Soon after, the Red Sox handed out an 11-year, $331 million extension to ensure Rafael Devers would spend his entire career with the franchise.


What it meant for the Giants: The Giants had been searching for a new face of the franchise even before Buster Posey retired in 2021, and according to president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, they were going to be "aggressive" and "really active" in free agency this offseason. The obvious target to fill their need for a power-hitting outfielder: Aaron Judge, who grew up rooting for the Giants. When he instead decided to return to the Yankees, and with Turner and Bogaerts off the board, the Giants and Correa were ... well, maybe not exactly a perfect fit, but the Giants had money to burn and Correa wanted the biggest contract he could get. The two sides agreed to a 13-year, $350 million contract, blowing past the Giants' previous record contract for a free agent, Johnny Cueto's $130 million deal.


Dominoes: With most of the top free agents already signed and delivered, the Giants were left scrambling for the second-tier players. They ended up parceling out their money to outfielders Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto and pitchers Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea, but they lost Rodon to the Yankees and finished the offseason with no Judge and no Correa.


Dominoes: It's hard to say. Rodon's deal was the last massive free agent deal of the offseason to go to a pitcher. Minnesota was an oft-mentioned possibility for Rodon and so perhaps the Twins, at the time, were the club most frustrated at Rodon landing with the Yankees. As it turned out, though, if the Twins had indeed met this market price for Rodon's services, their pivot back to Correa -- from whom they spent big after his earlier deals fell through -- might not have been possible.


To say that fans of these two teams were frustrated with the offseason plans of their front offices would be an understatement, and these moves didn't exactly change those sentiments. In the case of the Dodgers, the biggest fallout to an offseason without a big splash is that the top of the National League is now much more open than in recent years with L.A. likely to take a step back and other NL heavyweights positioned to pounce.


Dominoes: For the rest of this offseason? Not many. By this point, Correa's options were limited, and the Twins were the only real fit. The Dodgers weren't spending, the Yankees had multiple shortstop prospects (including Anthony Volpe, who will start in the majors), the Orioles have Gunnar Henderson already in the majors, the Mariners were content with J.P. Crawford and the Braves were banking on Vaughn Grissom.


But the fallout of the Carlos Correa saga goes far beyond what moves followed, or even just MLB free agency. Will anyone ever be as certain that a mega-contract in any sport will be completed until the ink on the contract is actually dry again? Correa's name now goes down as a reminder of every twist and turn that made this MLB offseason unforgettable.


"We're looking at it as an opportunity," he said. "Now what we need to do as coaches and an entire staff is now bring these guys together, with the young core we already have and bringing them together here this spring. We've got nine weeks to do it in the offseason. They've already started it. I've sent texts out and exchanged numbers between guys and talked to guys about how important relationships are; they can start building those relationships as we go. The guys have done that and they're going to lay that foundation."


During the offseason, Eberflus and his assistants typically work on their playbooks and schemes in the morning and assess free agents and draft prospects on film in the afternoon, ultimately sharing their input with general manager Ryan Poles.


After another offseason stretch that ended unsuccessfully without a deal between the two sides, the Ravens announced that they were applying the non-exclusive tag to Jackson. That isn't the end of the story, however, in Baltimore.


So when Singletary looks at what the Bears did this offseason, investing heavily in the linebacking corps by adding Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, he sees a defense that added talent but is missing the key components.


But the Bears entered the offseason needing to fix a defensive line that couldn't breathe on opposing quarterbacks last season. Poles had $100 million in salary cap space to attack that area of weakness. He added defensive end DeMarcus Walker and defensive tackle Andrew Billings.


Poles was disciplined. No doubt. But his hard-line stance on value has the Bears speeding toward the draft with holes all across the defensive line. Holes that need to be at least partially patched up this offseason, or else the Bears' revamped linebacking corps will be rendered moot this fall.


The Bears entered the offseason with significant needs along both lines of scrimmage. Poles took a run at right tackle Mike McGlinchey but elected not to get in a bidding war with the Denver Broncos, who gave McGlincey a massive $87.5 million deal.


The Titans were in a similar position with A.J. Brown last offseason, so never say never. If Simmons does hit the trade market, it's a deal that would make sense for the Bears. They have the money to give him the extension he wants and the draft capital to appease the Titans.


Washington Commanders center Chase Roullier could be a solid addition on the other side of the ball (shoutout to PFF's Brad Spielberger for this). The Commanders signed interior offensive lineman Nick Gates this offseason. Gates can play all three positions, allowing Washington to cut Roullier. Roullier is a good zone run-blocker, but he has battled injuries over the past two seasons.


The 2022 season saw the Seahawks return to the playoffs while also showing a lot of potential that bodes well for the team's future. And with a lot of draft capital and salary cap space to work with, the 2023 offseason is one that could help set the Seahawks up for even more success next year and beyond. 041b061a72


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